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The Help: Housing Style

by Chicago Agent

Numerous government agencies and non-profits gathered for a conference on how to rejuvenate housing.

More than 50 representatives of grassroots and national housing advocacy organizations engaged in a three-hour roundtable discussion on housing with government officials on Monday for “America’s Housing Crisis: Solutions to the Changing Landscape.”

Hosted Ocwen Financial Corporation, the event featured representatives from the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and HOPE Now Alliance, all of whom discussed ways to address the national housing and mortgage crisis more effectively.

Initiatives included: how greater collaboration between mortgage servicers and grassroots groups can lead to real-time solutions for homeowners, including early help to avert the foreclosure process; approaches to working with the Obama administration so more distressed homeowners can qualify for mortgage modifications or other alternatives to foreclosure; and ways in which web technology, such as HopeLoan Port, can speed up community group outreach and support for homeowners who need counseling and other supportive social services.

Ricardo Byrd, the executive director for the National Association of Neighborhoods, said events like Monday’s are essential to solving housing’s problems.

“Solving the mortgage crisis depends on joint efforts by government, community groups, servicers and homeowners themselves. One way to turn up the volume on the effort is to brainstorm together and share ideas and insights into what works,” Byrd said. “One thing that we agreed should be done immediately is to step up the community outreach and awareness efforts around the government’s (Home Affordable Modification Program); a national campaign is needed to bring more qualified homeowners in distress into this program.”

Faith Schwartz, the executive director of HopeNow, similarly emphasized the importance of discussion.

“HUD non-profit counseling agencies are facing a shortfall in funding, yet the need remains for quality housing counseling to be available to distressed borrowers,” Schwartz said. “We need to effect a solution to allow this critical work to continue. Servicers, government and the investor community must continue to fund these efforts. This roundtable brought the stakeholders together and provided a forum for this discussion.”

And finally, Ronald Faris, Ocwen’s CEO and president, said that combining the interests of housing activists and businesses will be critical for the market’s recovery.

“We’ve always been grateful for grassroots and housing advocacy groups’ commitment to helping individuals stay in their homes,” Faris said. “It’s really a powerful thing when the objectives of the non-profit organizations align with ours, as we all work hard to help troubled homeowners, often through mortgage modifications … The meeting of the minds and generous sharing of experiences and ideas that occurred at the roundtable will energize all of us who are working to meet the challenges presented by the mortgage crisis.”

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